Apr 26, 2019 06:10PM
● By Debbie Hall
Whiskey pour that golden brown elixir into a glass and, as it dances on your tongue, its flight can take you across the country and around the world. Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar Las Vegas has made its way out west carrying the spirit(s) of the best drink and cocktails along with some good food to pair with it.
World Whiskey Day is May 18, and Big Whiskey’s is celebrating with the diversity of each country’s culture captured in its whiskeys. There are 172 whiskeys available with whiskey on tap, local beers, and wine for all tastes.
SO, WHAT IS WHISKEY?
Whiskey is a diverse spirit distilled from wheat, rye, or corn, depending on the country. The grain(s) are mashed and, in the US, whiskey must be least 80 proof. Other countries, such as Canada, Scotland, Ireland, Taiwan, and Japan, use different methods with different tastes and proofs. Whiskey’s character comes from the grains used, quality and type of water, process of distillation, proof, length of maturation, and the type of wood used in aging.
Scotch must come from Scotland and is spelled without the letter e or expect to be chastised. Single-malt scotch uses a rye mash and is distilled and aged in oak casts for at least three years. Savor the smoothness at Big Whiskey’s, where the variety on offer includes Balvenie, Doublewood, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and Laphroaig.
Blended scotch, which is a single malt Scotch whisky distilled at more than one distillery, tempts with brands including Chivas, Dewar’s, Johnny Walker (Red, Black, and Blue), and Monkey Shoulder.
Japan distills a very favorable taste with a silky texture in whisky, and Big Whiskey’s offers 10 Japanese varities to experience the nature of the country.
According to the Whisky Advocate, Irish whisky is one of the fastest growing spirits in popularity, and Big Whiskey’s offers a trip around the island with Jameson, Midleton, Powers, and Redbreast.
As for whiskeys distilled in the US, different tastes come from different regions. As Tony Depasquale, owner of the Las Vegas location, explains, “It depends on your flavor palate. Bourbons tend to be sweeter due to the corn mash used. However, there are some excellent bourbons made with a rye mash.”
Bourbon must be distilled in the US. However, unlike champagne that must be made in Champagne, France, bourbon does not have to be distilled in Bourbon County, only on US soil. Brown Sugar, Calumet Farms, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and Woodford Reserve, along with small-batch bourbon including Basil Hayden’s, Elijah Craig, and Ridgemont Reserve 1792, celebrate this American favorite.
Whiskey made in Tennessee includes the very popular Jack Daniels. There is also a back story with the Tennessee distillery. Nathan “Nearest” Green was a former slave who became a master distiller and taught Jack Daniels how to distill whiskey. Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey was introduced to honor Green as the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States, and Big Whiskey’s proudly offers it.
Even Vegas can proudly claim home-distilled whiskeys, including Smoke Wagon Small Batch Bourbon, and Jefferson Ocean Small Batch Bourbon. Named after Thomas Jefferson, Ocean went on an adventure, taking four barrels of whiskey on a boat journey around the world. The whiskey’s flavor profile changed dramatically because of the sway of the ocean, and the salt water changed its complexion. Jefferson Ocean is the only bourbon that is still considered bourbon even though it has left the US because it remained on the boat, it is still bourbon.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
The difference between whiskey and whisky is that if the spirit is from Scotland, Japan, or Canada, it is spelled whisky without an e. If it is made in the United States or Ireland, it is spelled whiskey with an e. However, Maker’s Mark and Old Forester are two American brands using the whisky spelling. The only time the spelling is essential is Scotch whisky.
For those who love a cocktail, Big Whiskey’s blends and combines different beverages to create unique and memorable drinks. #Vegas-Born, its signature Manhattan, tastes like eggnog. Golden Knightarita is its unique take on a margarita and Nevada Peach celebrates the fruit. Fun fact: The state of Nevada is one of the most prolific producers of peach variations in the US.
A good whiskey can genuinely enhance a meal, and Big Whiskey’s offers dishes that pair well with spirits. Bourbon Glazed Salmon is grilled salmon glazed with bourbon infused sweet sauce served over rice pilaf with a side of steamed broccoli. Baby Rack Ribs is a Big Whiskey’s favorite made with slow-cooked pork ribs chargrilled and basted with honey whiskey barbecue sauce and served with loaded fries and cole slaw. Depasquale’s personal preference is Rick House Ribeye, a hand-cut USDA Choice 12-ounce ribeye, grilled, topped with signature steak butter and served with steamed broccoli and loaded mashed potatoes with a shot of Jack Daniels. However, there is an extensive menu that includes burgers, pasta, and even salads for those who love leafy greens. There are only three desserts, but try the Whiskey Bananas Foster for a heavenly experience.
There are 27 televisions at Big Whiskey’s, but, as Depasquale explains, “We celebrate sports, but we are not a sports bar. We welcome everyone including families, friends, industry night, date night, and those who love a good drink and fun times.”
The legend of Big Whiskey’s started in a small, corner tavern in the Midwest almost 30 years ago. Today, it embraces the familiarity of the past while sharing the tastes of today with excellent service, awesome food, entertaining atmosphere, and good whiskey.